YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollectionsSuccess

Voice: Giving all she had to give her mother: abiding love

January 03, 2002

When one enters the twilight years, phantoms of the past sometimes rise to haunt me.

The phantom that haunts me also haunted Taylor Caldwell: regret. In Taylor's case, she publicly expressed the regret that success had come to her so late in life that she had not been able to save her children from hardship.

In my case financial success never came. I strove mightily, holding three jobs at a time, to provide the comforts of life for my children and my blind, paralyzed mother. I was never able to provide more than the barest necessities.

My children grew up and had very successful lives.

But my mother, totally dependent upon me, never knew any of the comforts of life.

Mom was orphaned by the time she was 12. She had to work in the fields all day and keep house for a farmer and his wife by night. She never had pretty clothes or did any of the fun things other girls enjoy.


Shortly after she married my father, he became totally disabled. So now she had him and his two younger children to support. This servitude did not end when she went blind, 24 years after I was born: She changed her home into apartments and rented them out to supply the necessities for us.

Mother never had a dress-up dress. After she had a massive stroke I made her clothing for her — pretty cotton prints.

Mother never complained, never let anyone know that she wanted anything.

I resolved, early on, to be a successful writer, and to see that my beloved mother had everything a woman could desire. Somehow I would lift her out of privation to a life of plenitude and ease.

It was a beautiful dream, but it never came true. When she died, I could provide for her burial, but not a gravestone.

So that I am a failed writer hurts doubly because I was never able to give the persons dearest to me any of the comforts of life.

The tears still come 45 years after her death when I think of how I failed my mother on the monetary level.

It is cold comfort to know I'll never love anyone more than I loved her. I couldn't give her opulence.

But I gave her, in full measures, a daughter's abiding love and devotion. It was not enough, but it was all I had to give.


El Centro

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles